Abstract

In this study, a submerged membrane bioreactor was used to study the effect of low and high bisphenol A (BPA) concentration on the sludge biological activity. The pilot was operated over 540 days with hydraulic retention time and solid retention time of 5.5 hours and 140 days, respectively. As a hydrophobic compound, BPA was highly adsorbed by activated sludge. In lower concentrations, the biodegradation rate remained low, since the BPA concentration in the sludge was lower than 0.5 mg/g TS; yet, at an influent concentration up to 15 mg/L, the biodegradation rate was increasing, resulting in 99% BPA removal efficiency. The result for chemical oxygen demand removal showed that BPA concentration has no effect on the heterotrophic bacteria that were responsible for the organic carbon degradation. In higher concentrations, up to 16 mg of BPA was used for each gram of sludge as a source of carbon. However, the activity of autotrophic bacteria, including nitrifiers, was completely halted in the presence of 20 mg/L of BPA or more. Although nitrification was stopped after day 400, ammonia removal remained higher than 70% due to air stripping. Assimilation by bacteria was the only removal pathway for phosphorus, which resulted in an average 35% of P-PO4 removal efficiency.

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